There's been a good deal of distress in the environmental community about the reluctance of the United States to enter into such agreements. But there's still another group—best perhaps represented by the "group of 77" (the developing countries)—that is taking a different position. I haven't heard how that's coming out in the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York. But the other position—as I understand it (and we'll all know better in the course of a few weeks when the debates are over)—is that if one looks at the environmental situation around the world in relation to development, it's all very well to think about limiting chlorofluorocarbons or carbon dioxide or methane, but if we are concerned about the welfare of the planet, much more important these days is the wise management of what appears to be a severely deteriorating set of resources of soil, water, and vegetation. The Western European nations are talking about limiting carbon dioxide, which will have an effect over the next 20 or 30 years. The argument of this group is that we need only look around to see that the planet is under severe pressure and its society is decaying. Take action now, and don't satisfy ourselves in thinking we're coping with it by simply limiting effluents. This question is being raised in connection with preparations for the U.N. conference.
You may ask, which of the actions that they may be proposing or appraising ought to be taken regardless of climate change? To what extent are they truly urgent requirements for our world society? I hope we shall have this in our minds as we consider the management alternatives. And then, what is it that has still further urgency because of climate change? It is with those questions that I introduce our four speakers.